Is there anyone who hasn’t dreamed of dragging open the door of a seemingly abandoned barn, shed or garage, to find a long-forgotten piece of automotive or motorcycling jewellery sitting there, waiting patiently to be dragged out into the sunshine and brought back to life?
As time goes on it seems increasingly unlikely that there are any barns or outbuildings left to be picked over, such has been the interest in the ‘Barn Find’ phenomenon. However, despite this, there are still apparently plenty of surprises out there, some treasure troves to be unearthed and gems to be discovered.
Fast Facts – 180 Motorcycles Rediscovered
- “Barn Finds” are cars or motorcycles that have been found languishing not only in farmer’s barns, or in garages, outbuildings, sheds, and even in overgrown gardens or woods, where they may have lain undisturbed for many decades. Condition can range from complete and dusty to all-but rusted out, missing engine and drive train.
- This expansive collection of 180 vintage British motorcycles was recently uncovered at a secret location near Michigan. They were all packed up with a trove of additional spare parts and sent to England.
- In total, five 40 foot containers were loaded, containing motorcycles from BSA, Triumph, AJS, Norton, AJS, Coventry Eagle, Velocette, and more.
- The bikes were discovered by the team at Hitchcock’s Motorcycles, a British bike specialist located in Solihull, who spent years negotiating with the owner to buy them all.
The Ultimate Motorcycle Barn Find
Many of us would be satisfied with finding one dusty but complete motorcycle languishing in the depths of a gloomy workshop but how about finding 180 British motorcycles and a further 50 tons of spares, including frames, engines, wheels, forks, gas tanks and countless other smaller components from speedometers and rev counters through to nuts, bolts, and washers?
That is exactly what happened to Hitchcock’s Motorcycles, a British bike specialist located in Solihull, between Birmingham and Coventry in the British Midlands. The firm has just finished unloading five, 40 foot containers that have been shipped over from the U.S. and the resulting warehouse-full of classic British metal is all-but overwhelming.
Some of the bikes are complete but rough, others are missing seats, tanks or other components, some look as if they would run with just a change of oil and a bit of fresh gas while others are full restoration jobs. So many different marques are represented: BSA, Triumph, AJS, Norton, AJS, Coventry Eagle, Velocette and a large number of Royal Enfields, again, some running, some not.
The job of sorting through it all, identifying, cataloguing and listing everything in the shipment could take years but, as the man in the video says, it will be a labour of love.
Four of the containers were filled with motorcycles and spares from an undisclosed location near Michigan.
Hitchcock’s had been in discussion with the owner for several years before the deal was concluded and it took a full week to remove everything from the storage space and load it up. All the bikes were on an upper floor and had to be winched down one-by-one through a trap door, as did all the frames and wheels. The fifth container was filled from a different location and, apparently, there are still more to come.
Whenever a find such as this is revealed, one can’t help wondering how many other such hoards are sitting unmolested, either in a long-disused workshop or farmer’s barn out in the middle of nowhere. What makes people collect such vast amounts of hardware?
Is it an obsession, a form of kleptomania, or is there really a desire to restore each and every motorcycle? In today’s world, the value of old motorcycles is keenly appreciated but there was a time, however unimaginable, when an old motorcycle was just that: old and virtually worthless, which meant that it was possible to accumulate vast numbers of them for very little money.
We’ve all heard stories of the Brough Superior or Vincent Black Shadow being picked up for a song back in the 1960s or early ‘seventies, simply because the classic market had yet to materialise, and they are enough to make you weep: best not to think of all those now-priceless models being simply scrapped as they weren’t worth anything!
But we are unsentimental about what we use today, preferring to move onto the next big thing and only regretting what we gave away when it is too late or too many years have passed, and it was no different way back then.
With that in mind, thank goodness for the oddballs who, for whatever reason, salt away hundreds of motorcycles and box after box of unused spares.
If you’d like to see more or contact Hitchcock’s Motorcycles about buying one or more of these motorcycles you can visit their website here.
Harry has been obsessing about cars and motorbikes for over 45 years, driving and riding them for 38 years and writing and talking about them for 15 years. In that time, he has ridden everything from an Aprilia to a Zundapp, from an Abarth to a Zagato from the 1920s to the 2020s.
His favorites are the ones that didn’t break down and leave him stranded. While he loves the convenience of modern cars and bikes, he likes nothing better than getting his hands dirty keeping old crocks running, just as long as it’s not by the roadside, although that has happened many times!
His passion for anything that moves under its own steam remains undimmed, even if sometimes it is detrimental to his sanity and his wallet.